A 10-foot high statue of Saraswati - the Hindu goddess of learning now stands in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Massachusetts Avenue.
The monument, a gift from the Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S., Dino Djalal, honors Indonesia’s minority population of Hindus who live mostly on the island of Bali and represent only 3% of the Country’s total population of 247 million.
Indonesia’s majority faith is Islam at 88%.
Ambassador Djalal has consistently shown a strong commitment to religious pluralism. He has led, together with a Jewish community leader, a group of 24 Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders from the U.S.A. and Indonesia on a mission of peace to Jordan, the Palestinian authority and Israel. Ambassador Djalal’s role in this regard was all the more remarkable considering Indonesia has no diplomatic ties with Israel nor does it officially recognize Judaism as a world religion.
The dynamic Ambassador has also organized a televised interfaith discussions on religious tolerance, in keeping with Djalal’s unyielding commitment to the Indonesian national motto of “Unity in Diversity.”
A team of Balinese artists led by I Nyoman Sudarwa created the cement statue of Saraswati. The resulting monument took three weeks to complete and includes three smaller statues of children at Saraswati's feet – an African-American, a Caucasian and an East Asia.
The Goddess Saraswati is celebrated for her dedication to the study of music, art, language and poetry.
The statue is being erected in a neighborhood that is also home to a statue commemorating Mahatma Gandhi.
The erection of the Hindu statue, which stands in front of the Indonesian Embassy, was universally approved by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission of Dupont Circle in Washington.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in the United States to receive an award for promoting religious tolerance in Indonesia, together with Ambassador Djalan, was saluted by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed for supporting religious pluralism, honoring diversity and respecting minorities.
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